Piedmont school districts vary on making masks mandatory or optional


(WGHP) — North Carolina health officials are calling on schools to require masks for all students and adults regardless of vaccination status, which is in line with the latest CDC guidance.

Some school districts in the Piedmont have decided to make masks optional, and others are requiring them.

The Davidson County Schools Board of Education voted to make masks optional for students and staff in district buildings for the 2021-2022 academic school year.

Students and staff will be required to wear a mask while riding the bus due to poor ventilation and social distancing.

Guilford County Schools passed a universal mask requirement for students and staff in schools.

“We had to make a decision to ensure that schools remain open. That is our job,” said Dr. Sharon Contreras, Guilford County Schools superintendent.

Starting in the fall students and employees must keep their masks on except for eating or during recess.

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education voted to require masks for all students, staff and visitors 5 years old and older in all WS/FCS buildings and means of transportation for the first quarter of the 2021-2022 school year.

“The biggest reason for our decision was really about having kids in school,” said Superintendent Tricia McManus. “I’m looking at this masking as temporary to get us to a place this school year that we can have students free of them.”

The Randolph County Board of Education passed a resolution to make masks optional in school settings and said that not wearing a mask would “not violate any school rules.”

Governor Roy Cooper used words such as “alarming” to describe the current state of the pandemic. While he wants people to follow the CDC guidance, which even calls for fully vaccinated people to wear masks in public indoor settings in more than 80 percent of the state’s counties, he is not requiring that himself.   

“The landscape has changed. Back when we were doing all of the statewide restrictions and mandating, we really did not have vaccines in place. Now vaccines are everywhere,” he said.  

If you are not vaccinated, do not be around those who are vaccinated, Dr. Mandy Cohen with the state health department said. 

“People who are unvaccinated make up most all of our cases where people are getting sick and hospitalized. The delta variant of COVID is even more contagious to those who are not vaccinated. It doesn’t matter your age or race. If you are not vaccinated, you are at great risk,” Cooper said. 

The governor said don’t wait to get vaccinated. 

“This vaccine could save your life,” Cooper said. 

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